Function: The work/activities section of the AMCAS is an excellent opportunity for medical school applicants to shine. This collection of mini essays really gives you an opportunity to showcase your interests and illustrate the depth and breath of your extracurricular involvement. Fill out as many as you can, but make sure you only describe the activities in which you invested significant time, energy, and effort. These essays are a prime hunting ground for interview questions. Make sure you know everything you write there by heart because you WILL be asked about these activities on multiple occasions.
Structure: I viewed this portion of the application as an extended resume which highlights skill and demonstrates commitment. Make sure you cover these points in the essay:
1. What is the activity? What's the purpose of the organization? Give a sentence or two of background information.
2. What was your involvement? What did you actually do? Who did you work with? What was accomplished? Just like you would in a real resume, make sure to use action words that really depict your contribution to the activity. Make a brief note of the time commitment as well.
These essays don't really provide room for fluff or poetic prose, its all about the business. It's your opportunity to detail your entire resume, especially those activities unrelated to medicine. In these essays you really want to cover the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and HOW of each activity.
It is important to note however, that you cover the WHY of your most important or meaningful activities in your personal statement and secondary essays. That's when you really need to connect those activities to your desire to become a physician.
As always, its important to make sure everything is well written. Have at least two people proof your work for clarity. They should be able to tell you the WHO, WHAT, WHERE and HOW of each activity with relative ease. Admissions officers don't have time to dig for that information so make it easy for them to like your application.
Here is an example from My AMCAS:
Harvard Society of Black Scientists and Engineers
The Harvard Society of Black Scientists and Engineers (HSBSE) is an organization that provides mentorship and career development opportunities for students interested in science, medicine, and engineering. I joined HSBSE my freshman year and in my sophomore year was elected to the board. As Social Chair I planned and moderated events for the organization which included a speaker series, study groups, and general meetings (6 hours/week). In my junior year I was elected Vice- President of the organization and led a board of students in organizing events that catered to our membership (12 hours/week). As Vice-President I was the executive producer of HSBSE’s annual intercollegiate charity step show which raised money for our affiliate mentorship program. I also helped fund-raise, plan and execute HSBSE’s other large events which include a Mentorship Luncheon, and a senior award banquet called Celebration of Excellence.
Do you have a question about medical school applications? Ask me by submitting a comment or contacting me via twitter @JenniferAdaeze.